December 4, 2012

My Enemy's Friend Is Me

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” ~ Matthew 5:43-48

Jesus is not really asking us to be perfect here. We couldn’t if we tried in this life anyway. The word perfect is not the best translation here of the word τέλειός / teleios in the Greek. A better translation here in its context would’ve been complete or mature. He is calling us to be whole or complete, or a maturity in God. We obviously cannot be perfect but we should indeed strive to be complete in Christ. It is through Christ that we get this done. It is not of our own work that this happens. This is the whole point of this passage…it is a passage that calls us to love our enemies. We in and of ourselves are not capable of doing this on our own. The very thing that we are called to give our enemies to be able to love them is exactly what we need from God to allow us to be able to love them. Grace. We are to be imitators of God’s behavior towards us exactly because we are recipients of that same behavior. We see a similar situation in Matthew 25 when we are called to help others and give what has already been given to us in the form of mercy and grace. If we do act as we are called to act, we are told in the following passage that we are in reality treating God this way. How much more so would we be doing this by doing it to our enemy? For this is exactly what God did when He died on the Cross. He died for us while we were still His enemy. He loved His enemy by dying for them. Romans 5:10 is clear: “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” So to love our enemies is to be mature or more complete in Christ. In so doing we may have every well dealt graciously and mercifully with the “least of these”.

Matthew 25:34-40 ~ “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

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